French Grammar Explained /

Agreement of adjectives I

Adjectives are very useful. They help us describe, qualify and specify another word (noun).
Is that things like big, small,...?
Yes! Some examples for you:
Have you ever thought about the 10 most common adjectives in English? They are: good, new, first, last, long, great, little, own, other, old.
In French, adjectives are more precise than in English. This is because of two things: 1. The French language uses a masculine and a feminine gender. 2. Adjectives have to agree in number (singular/plural) and in gender (masculine/feminine) with the noun they describe.
Mon fauteuil préféré est bleu.
My favorite chair is blue.
Ma table préférée est dans le salon.
My favorite table is in the living room.
Mes meubles préférés sont en bois.
My favorite pieces of furniture are made of wood.
Mes chaussures préférées sont noires.
My favorite shoes are black.
Most adjectives behave like préféré - in a "regular" way:
- The masculine form is the base form to which endings are added.
- The feminine adjective is formed by adding an -e.
- The masculine plural of adjectives is formed by adding -s.
- The feminine plural of adjectives is formed by adding an -es.
Phew, that's quite a lot at once... I'm a bit lost.
Oh dear... It helps to imagine adjectives as accessories to an outfit. The noun is the outfit, and the accessories (adjectives) have to match.
Oh, I see! So if my outfit is masculine plural, the accessory also has to be masculine plural?
That's right!
Note that the pronunciation stays the same for the four forms!
I have seen the word petite, is that the feminine version of petit?
Yes it is, well done! You found the second form of adjectives!
Do you remember the silent final consonants we talked about at the beginning?
T, S, D etc.?
Exactement ! This helps you to know how to pronounce the feminine adjective. So when in petit the final letter that you pronounce is I, in petite, it is T.
So by that logic... grand becomes grande?
Précisément !
But of course there are some exceptions, as we can see with the adjective beau.
C'est un beau tableau.
It's a beautiful painting.
C'est une belle chaise.
It's a beautiful chair.
How am I supposed to remember all of the special ones?
Don't worry, you won't have to learn them by heart. Since adjectives are the decorations of our language, we will dedicate another whole topic to the "exceptional" ones!
Note that for the adjectives which already end with an -e in the masculine form, there is no change for the feminine: large, confortable, moderne, suisse etc.
Le lit est confortable.
The bed is comfortable.
Les chaises sont confortables.
The chairs are comfortable.